Laurienzo Brick Oven Cafe

Laurienzo Brick Oven Cafe in Mt. Airy is a Fine Dining Hidden Gem, Hands down the best pizza in the area. Not to mention their mouth watering Entrees.

Usually when I travel to Mt. Airy MD, it’s a quick there and back trip. On these trips I have to admit, I don’t have time to sit down for a meal. So, BK it is. This last week, I had a little time to kill while waiting for my appointment, so I started looking at dining options. I did not realize Mt. Airy has an old town section with a number of excellent restaurant choices. The restaurant that stood out to me was Laurienzo Brick Oven Cafe.

I’m not certain how I would classify Laurienzo’s. They serve gourmet pizzas. They have a nice selection of pasta’s. But, when you review their entree’s, you

I’m not certain how I would classify Laurienzo’s. I don’t know that I would call them an Italian restaurant. They serve gourmet pizzas, with a nice selection of pastas. But, when you review their entree’s, you see dishes such as French Onion Pork Chops, Sesame Ginger Mahi Mahi, and a dish I settled on, Chicken Evelyn.

The interior of Laurienzo’s is perfect for an intimate dinner for two. At the same time, they have Family Style tables, with a menu section titled Family Style. This is perfect for Business Team Meetings or an outing with the family.

The first night I went to Laurienzo’s was with a singular purpose. I was interested in trying their Wood Fired Pizza.

Laurienzo Wood Fired Carnivore Pizza
Laurienzo Wood Fired Carnivore Pizza

Hands down, this is the best pizza in the region. Maybe in the entire state of Maryland. Given that this is not my first Rodeo when it comes to dining on Wood Fired Pizza’s, I expected the crust to appear well done. Laurienzo’s even has a note on their menu stating the nature of Wood Fired Pizza’s. The edges usually appear dark.

I ordered their Carnivore Pizza, my first bite sent my taste buds into overdrive. So many flavors melting together. My first thought was they do not skimp on the quantity or the quality of their toppings. The sauce is not an afterthought. Laurienzo’s actually uses spices in their sauce. Having said this, the spices are not overwhelming. This is one outstanding pizza.

It is a rare occasion that I will return to a restaurant two days in a row. Especially when it’s an hour drive, but I went back for lunch the next day. I had to try their entrees.

Laurienzo Brick Oven Cafe Corn Chower
Laurienzo’s Corn Chowder

When it comes to soup, one of my passions is Corn Chowder. Seeing Corn Chowder on the menu I had to try it. In their description of the ingredients, they call out spiced cream, sherry, fresh corn. Once again, I can’t say enough about the flavor of this soup. You first taste the corn flavor in the broth, then you get hit with a little heat. If you don’t like spicy food, not to worry, the spice is subtle, but definitely makes this a unique interpretation of Corn Chowder. I could go back just for this soup. When they say fresh corn, I saw someone carrying in ears of corn.

Laurienzo Brick Cafe Chicken Evelynn
Laurienzo Chicken Evelyn

So far, I’m batting a thousand. With the Carnivore Pizza fresh in my mind and having finished the Corn Chowder, could they go three for three. Once again Laurienzo’s prepared a dish, I cannot say enough about; Chicken Evelyn.

Chicken Evelyn is a chicken breast that is stuffed with prosciutto, that is served with garlic mashed potatoes, wilted spinach, goat cheese, and a lemon dill sauce. Every component of the dish could stand on it’s on. Together it makes a fantastic bite. Not one aspect overpowers the other. I’m not one to eat spinach on its own, but when combined with the chicken gives you a pleasant tart after taste. I’m a huge fan of  lemon dill sauce. Not to overuse the term balanced, every component of this dish works together. The portion is large enough to where you should plan on a doggy bag.

Good food worth driving for is the motto of this site. Laurienzo Brick Oven Cafe, fills this bill perfectly. The next time I’m in the mood for a good meal, I will make the trek to Mt. Airy.

As you gathered, I am highly recommending Laurienzo Brick Oven Cafe. Have you been to Laurienzo or do you have a favorite restaurant that features Wood Fired Foods.

Firestone’s Culinary Tavern

Firestone’s Culinary Tavern in Frederick, MD eclectic mix culinary experience.

Frederick Maryland’s old town has a thriving restaurant scene. Part of this restaurant scene is Firestone’s Culinary Tavern.   The best way to describe Firestone’s is that they are an eclectic mix of culinary experiences. My first impression was they are a fine dining restaurant, but after being seated I wasn’t sure. The service was excellent, but the meal was a roller coaster.

Firestones Smoked Bacon Starter
Firestone’s Smoked Bacon and Polenta Starter

After ordering our food and wine, the waiter brought out a Smoked Bacon and Polenta Starter. This little bite was quite good. My first thought this meal is starting off promising. My appraisal was enhance by their excellent selection of wines by the glass. My Riesling was a nice balance, not to sweet, not to dry. Their Pinot Grigio was not dry, pleasantly balanced.

Firestones Steamed Mussels
Firestone’s Steamed Mussels

The challenge of Firestone’s is when it came to the main course. My dinner guest had ordered Steamed Mussels and I ordered their Wagyu Sirloin. If you have been following my blog, you know how I feel about having to add salt to food, to bring out it’s flavor. The Steamed Mussels were bland. One of the pleasures of eating Steamed Mussels is lapping up the sauce with the Grilled Baguette. Unfortunately even salt could not help this sauce. I don’t know if our waiter said anything to the Chef, but he needed to know a patron was adding salt to his dish.

Firestones Wagyu Sirloin
Firestone’s Wagyu Sirlion

Now to flip the script, the Wagyu Sirloin was excellent. From my first bite to my last, I thoroughly enjoyed the Wagyu Sirloin. Cooked to a medium rare and seasoned to perfection. The Wagyu Sirloin was served over a Potato Pave, Haricot Vests, Roasted Carrots, and Cipolinni Onions.  To top this off, they drizzled a Port Wine Demi. Besides being cooked to perfection, the Wagyu beef was tender and had it’s unique flavor. This was the first time trying this steak. The steak lover in me could not get enough of this steak.

Firestones Salted Date Bread Pudding
Firestone’s Salted Date Bread Pudding

To finish off the meal we went with Firestone’s Salted Date Bread Pudding. The bread pudding was good, but it wasn’t as advertised. I couldn’t taste the Rum Butter Sauce and I’m not sure if there were dates in my bread pudding. The Vanilla ice cream was very good. The problem was the dish did not live up to my expectations.

Firestone’s Culinary Tavern  is not a place I will be returning to anytime soon. I’m not saying people should not try it, it’s just that there are too many restaurants in Frederick MD to try. Plus I want consistency in my meal. Have you been to Firestone’s? Do you have a favorite fine dining restaurant I should try? Leave a comment below.

Cafe Europa Bistro and Wine Bar

Cafe Europa in Portsmouth Virginia is in a category of it’s own. Fine dining that is influence by French, Italian, and Mediterranean cuisines.

Portsmouth Virginia is home to one of the finest restaurants on the East Coast, Cafe Europa. Dining at Cafe Europa you get the feeling that you are dining at a French restaurant, but the truth is Chef Michael serves up French and Italian dishes, with a Mediterranean influence. Cafe Europa is a Bistro in the truest sense of the word. They are a small unpretentious restaurant that serves an international cuisine. To give you an impression of how good Cafe Europa is, people boating up and down the coast of Virginia, will turn up the Elizabeth River and dock in Portsmouth, just to have a meal there. This is saying something when they could just as easy dock on the other side of the river and eat at one of the many fine restaurants in Norfolk.

Polenta 1_edited
Cafe Europa Polenta Gorgonzola

On this particular evening we were served up two outstanding appetizers Polenta Gorgonzola and Mussels Marinieres. My personal favorite is Cafe Europa’s Polenta Gorgonzola. The polenta is grilled and then rested on a rich and decadent Gorgonzola cheese sauce. This is a little slice of heaven and my favorite way to eat polenta.

Mussels Marinieres

The Mussels Marinieres is served in a white wine and butter herb sauce. The sauce is exquisite. Make sure you ask for extra bread to soak up the sauce.  The Mussels Marinieres is not on the menu, it is usually offered as an appetizer special. On the menu they do offer a Mussels Provencal, the difference is it is served with a Pernod, tomato based sauce. Either appetizer will be a special treat.

Hungarian Veal 2
Cafe Europa Hungarian Veal

Have you ever had veal that melts in your mouth? Whether you have or haven’t, Cafe Europa’s Hungarian Veal with Potato Noki was the star of the evening. The tomato-based sauce with it’s hint of paprika is Chef Michael’s way of paying homage to flavors of the Mediterranean. The sauce is a perfect accompaniment to the veal. I had to ask for another couple pieces of bread to lap up the sauce. The veal is so tender, it just melts in your mouth. I seriously considered asking for another order to go. This has to be the best veal I have ever had.

Apple Galette
Apple Galette

All of Cafe Europa’s desserts are made in house. As with the appetizers, every night the dessert menu changes. Talk about a challenge for the waitress, imagine having to memorize 16 or so desserts every night.  You would be hard pressed not to find something you desire. Dessert this evening consisted of a slice of Apple Galette, pictured, and slice of Conversation Tart. The Conversation Tart is a puff pastry filled with an almond filling.  I have tried my fair share of their desserts; I have never been disappointed.

Looking for an intimate evening out, or dining at a restaurant that leaves you feeling as if you just had a meal with old friends, Cafe Europa is definitely worth checking out. If you are in the Portsmouth or Norfolk Virginia area, call and reserve a table at Cafe Europa Bistro and Wine Bar. Have you been to Cafe Europa or have a favorite Bistro, share your comments below.

C&D Bar and Grill

Melt in your mouth Filet Mignon awaits at C&D Bar and Grill.

Talk about a pleasant accident. I was told about a family owned restaurant I had to try in New Oxford Pennsylvania. When I got there, the restaurant had a sign on the door saying they were closed for family vacation. Disappointed I looked around and saw C&D Bar and Grill. Not knowing what to expect, I discovered Fine dining in New Oxford.

C&D states on their website they are a casual fine dining restaurant. Looking at the menu, I was struck by the fine dining selections, but looking around the restaurant the clientele was families. Not exactly what I would expect at a fine dining establishment.

It is the little things that matter when you are eating at a restaurant that claims to be fine dining. The first thing I noticed was that they not only bake their own bread in house, but they also bake their own croutons for the salads. A simple salad can be an indication of how good a restaurant is. I chose a simple Caesar salad, but I saw on the menu, a Spinach salad with warm bacon vinaigrette or a Nicoise as fine dining options. 

C&D Filet Mignon 2
C&D Blue Cheese Filet Mignon

I don’t know that I have ever had a Filet Mignon that melted in your mouth. That was until I tried C&D’s Roquefort Blue Cheese Crusted Filet Mignon.  There is a powerful combination of the Roquefort Blue Cheese and Cabernet demi glaze followed by the melt in your mouth filet Mignon. The chef at C&D has mastered a powerful flavor explosion that comes in every bite. Given how satisfied I was with the filet Mignon, I am interested in going back to try their Blackened Sirloin and New York Strip. C&D has a full seafood selection. A dish worth trying is their Sesame Crusted Tuna, it  has  Asian leanings, with its stir fried vegetables, drizzled with a ginger soy sauce and sriracha aioli.


C&D has become one of my new favorite accidental discoveries. If the restaurant was open that I intended on visiting, I would have never discovered this gem. C&D puts their signature on every dish. Their Baklava is a fine way to finish a meal. Their twist is cinnamon sprinkled on top.

C&D Bar and Grill, in New Oxford Pennsylvania needs to be on your places to try. Whether it is date night or a family outing, you will not be disappointed. Have you been to C&D Bar and Grill; do you have a favorite steak and seafood restaurant, let me know in the comment section.

Dobbin House Tavern

The Dobbin House is fine dinning in Gettysburg, PA.

When asked what I wanted for my birthday, I said I wanted to go to the Dobbin House for dinner. I had read that the Dobbin House was the oldest home in Pennsylvania. The house was established by Alexander Dobbin in 1776. Today the house has been fully restored. According to their web-site, National Register of Historic Places states, “The Dobbin House is a colonial restaurant where candlelit elegance, superior food in abundance, and gracious service bring back the sights, sounds and tastes of two centuries ago.”

Dobbin House Interior
Dobbin House Dinning Area

Every room in the Dobbin house gives you the impression of elegance. Whether it is a night out with that special someone, or a celebration, the Dobbin House is the place to go. Each room is elegantly decorated, adding the ambience is the candles at each table. When you are finished or while waiting to dine, you can visit their museum and see how they played a part in the underground railroad.

Dobbin House Steak
New York Strip Steak

The Dobbin House menu is limited by design, with a selection of Steak, Seafood, and Poultry. It was hard to decide, with everything sounding delicious. We selected the New York Colony Strip Steak and the Fresh Catch of the Day which happened to be Salmon. The one thing that struck me as strange, when the bread was brought to the table, I was surprised to find lukewarm dinner rolls, that you can find in any supermarket. We have the impression they were heated in the microwave. I would have expected that they bake their own rolls. Aside from this my meal was OK. The steak was cooked to my preference of medium rare, it was seasoned just right. I have no real complaints. At the same time, I have had better steak at chain restaurants.

Dobbin House Salmon
Dobbin House Salmon

The Salmon on the other hand was under seasoned. It is a major turn off when a person has to reach for the salt, to add seasoning to a dish. The Salmon was underwhelming. It just didn’t say fine dining. Eatable yes, fine dining, no. A standout of the meal was the soup of the day. For this evening’s meal, they were serving a corn crab soup. Definitely worth trying.

Dobbin House Bar
Spring House Tavern Bar

If you looking for a special night out, the Dobbin House should be on your list of places to try. There were some challenges, especially if you have experienced fine dining. For myself, I will be heading back because I want to try the fare at the Spring House Tavern. The Spring House Tavern is an underground bar that is part of the Dobbin House. Their lunch menu says must try. Let me know your thoughts below. Have you been to the Dobbin House?